Return to Research on Campus Updates: Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)

July 13, 2020

Dear Researchers,

We are writing to update you on the work of CSI’s Return to Research on Campus (RRoC) committee and the status of the plan that the committee has been working on to enable the phasing-in of research activities onsite.  Many faculty have expressed frustration about their inability to restart research on campus, especially since the ASRC and CCNY began reopening recently. CSI’s RRoC committee has been endeavoring to develop a plan to satisfy NY State Covid guidelines given the constraints of our campus infrastructure and limited resources, and being mindful of the imperative to keep all personnel – researchers and essential support personnel  alike – safe and healthy. This will be a team effort and we will continue to work together across the campus to ensure we have a safe and sustainable plan for the coming months.


Members of the RRoC committee are: Dean Michael Cavagnero (Chair), Zaghloul Ahmed, Cesar Arenas-Mena, Thomas Brown, Katie Cumiskey, Mark Feuer, Alan Lyons, Amy Stempler, Sarolta Takacs, James Saccardo, Hope Berte, Mel Pipe (ex officio), Dan McCloskey (ex-officio/Animal Facility).  


The committee  has developed a plan that we believe meets all NY State guidelines for reopening. Note that it is CUNY policy that these State guidelines are minimum requirements for the return to research activity. Please familiarize yourself with the state guidelines and CUNY policies.  In constructing this plan, all 57 of the State guidelines were considered in detail in order to expedite the CUNY Office of Research review process. This has not been a small undertaking and we’d like to thank committee members who have generously given their time. This plan is being reviewed by the Chairs of the sub-committees of the CSI Re-entry committee as well as the Provost and the President, and we anticipate it will be submitted to CUNY for approval this week. 


Once our plan is approved by CUNY we can begin implementing it, as resources permit.


What can you do in the interim? 
1. Please read the CUNY guidelines for the return to research on campus, paying particular attention to the four Stages of activity and the research activities prioritized for each of those stages. It is likely that campus capacity will be severely limited, at least during Stage 2 of the reopening process, so departments and facilities should begin to have conversations about how to prioritize projects assuming a highly restricted campus population. 


2. Read the New York State guidelines for Higher Education Research, become familiar with them – the CSI plan translates them into requirements for our campus; it is essential we abide by these regulations at all times.  Think about how you will deal with these requirements in the context of your research activities.   You will be required to submit a plan for your lab before you can begin research activities on campus.  We have developed a template and will send it out as soon as the internal review process is complete, but it is not too early to think about the details.


3. Take the CITI COVID-19 training that is available to all CUNY researchers, free (until October): It will be required by the CSI Plan.  (And while you’re on CITI, take the RCR -- responsible conduct of research -- training that is required for all CUNY researchers!).  When you register with CITI, your Organization Affiliation is the City University of New York.


We will share the plan and hold a Town Hall for questions as soon as we have the approved plan submitted to CUNY – most of the details will involve implementation and we are continuing to work on those.


Best wishes,

Mel Pipe, Associate Provost, Graduate Studies, Research, and Institutional Effectiveness 
Michael Cavagnero, Dean of Science and Technology

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June 15 2020 Update

Dear Researchers,

We are writing to update you on steps that have been taken and are in process at CSI to facilitate the return to on-campus research – we are keenly aware that for many faculty on-campus activities are essential for their research to move forward and that the pause of on-campus research has been extremely disruptive and very frustrating. We have gone through a very challenging semester and moving ahead with on-campus research activities is on the top of our agendas. 


In preparing to return, we must follow all State, City, and CUNY guidelines.  On May 6, the CUNY office of Research released the Framework for CUNY Phasing in of On-Site Research, the first formal CUNY guidelines for how to proceed regarding the return of research.  These guidelines are broad, and campus-specific details for implementation have to be determined in compliance with CUNY EHS guidelines State regulations  and short guidelines relating to research specifically.


At CSI, we began our preparations well in advance of the CUNY guidelines and different offices have been engaged in discussions with relevant CUNY Offices and other CUNY campuses over the past months.   Before the end of the Spring Semester, a Return to Research on Campus (RRoC) Committee  was established so that we could be  as “ready to go” as possible, once we have the green light to proceed.  Members of that Committee are: Dean Michael Cavagnero (Chair), Zaghloul Ahmed, Cesar Arenas-Mena, Thomas Brown, Katie Cumiskey, Mark Feuer, Alan Lyons, Amy Stempler, Sarolta Takacs, James Saccardo, Hope Berte, Mel Pipe (ex officio), Dan McCloskey (ex-officio/Animal Facility).


When will there be a “green light?” State guidelines had meant no on-site research would be possible until the State moved into NY State Phase 2, which is anticipated in 2-3 weeks.  On Wednesday (June 10) we learned that onsite research is potentially possible in NY State Phase 1.  However,  any return to campus is subject to meeting all State requirements, including adequate PPE in place, training, reporting and documentation procedures, caps on capacity (and therefore priorities), authorization procedures, and so on – there are a myriad of requirements.  Further, CUNY must approve any plans.


The RRoC committee is working assiduously to identify the issues we need to address and make recommendations so that we can get in place the needed procedures – committee members are as eager as you all are to get back to their research programs!  First and foremost, however, are health and safety concerns, and VP Berte and James Saccardo from facilities are working on what is needed. We currently don’t have everything on hand and substantial resources are required to meet all the requirements.  Key resources including  PPE and sanitizing solutions were ordered at the beginning of the COVID pandemic and are still on back order.


The return to campus for research will necessarily be a phased process – we will have to begin slowly based on our plans and the ability to meet all State guidelines and health and safety considerations.  A particular concern is the safety of staff and graduate students who might be necessary to facilitate  research efforts.


I want to assure you that the work at CSI is well under-way, and although we hear that other Universities are ahead, in some instances these are medical schools or are out of the City where the State moved the Phases forward more quickly.   We are part of CUNY and of course follow CUNY guidance.


We look forward to the first phase of research on campus in the near future – the light isn’t green yet, but we can see an amber light not too far away.


Take care. 
Mel
Mel Pipe, Associate Provost, Graduate Studies, Research And Institutional Effectiveness

Return to Research on Campus Committee (RRoC) Members

Zaghloul Ahmed 
Cesar Arenas-Mena 
Hope Berte
Thomas Brown 
Dean Michael Cavagnero (Chair) 
Katie Cumiskey 
Mark Feuer 
Alan Lyons 
Dan McCloskey (ex-officio/Animal Facility)
Mel Pipe (ex officio) 
James Saccardo 
Amy Stempler 
Sarolta Takacs

Research Centers at CSI

It is the mission of the Office of Sponsored Programs and Research to support, encourage, and empower faculty to pursue external funding opportunities and to assist them in both pre-award and post-award activities.


Research Centers at CSI


The Chemistry Department houses two major research centers, the CUNY Institute for Macromolecular Assemblies (MMA) and the Center for Engineered Polymeric Materials (CePM). Through CePM and MMA’s activities, students gain opportunities to create novel research projects and network effectively with academia and industry.

MMA is positioned at the interface of Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Engineering. 

CePM is working to strengthen the partnering of polymer-related industry and academia.

The Center for Developmental Neuroscience conducts basic and clinical research in the areas of mental diseases, intellectual and developmental disabilities, and brain disease.

The Center for Environmental Science, established in 1987, provides support for research and policy recommendations concerning environmental problems.

Research at CUNY